In a recent article in Medscape, the author, Sandra A. Fryhofer, MD, Professor of Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta (one of the most prestigious Medical Colleges in the USA) advised doctors that the use of Cranberry’s was useful in the treatment of bladder infections in women.
Cranberry is a red fruit found in cooler climates and generally consumed as a juice or a jelly. It is very sour. Women have found that consumption of large amounts of cranberries helped with bladder infections, a very common infection of adult women.
Until recently, medical scientists were unsure why cranberries could could cure or prevent bladder infections in women, although empirical evidence was strong, supporting this fact.
Two very “strong” experiments were done to either prove or disprove this fact.
Here is an abstract from Dr. Fryhofer’s article:
“A combined look at 2 randomized control trials found that cranberry products do work better than placebo. They reduced risk of UTI recurrence by 39%.
However, unlike these studies, the one discussed in this commentary compared cranberries to an antibiotic — trimethoprim sulfa (Bactrim®). This was a year-long, double-blind, double-dummy, randomized, noninferiority trial of more than 200 premenopausal women with recurrent UTIs.
Patients received either trimethoprim sulfa, 480 mg once a day, or cranberry capsules, 500 mg twice a day. The PAC dose in the cranberries was 9.1 mg. Antibiotics were better at preventing urinary tract infections in the women. However, bacteria did become more resistant to trimethoprim sulfa as well as amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin. Increased resistance was not seen in the cranberry group.
There is a caveat. Research published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases finds that 72 mg of PACs prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract lining. This is much higher than the 9.1 milligrams used in this study”
The question then becomes: WHAT ARE PAC’s?
A P.A.C is a Pro Antho Cyanadin.
PRO-ANTHO-CYANADIN’s are molecules found in plants. They are mostly found in plants whose fruit is sour, such as berries. If we look up the description of proanthocyanadins in Wikipedia, we get the picture, that since red grapes have proanthocyanadin’s, they are the probable cause of the “French Paradox.” The “French Paradox” is the inexplicable situation where millions of French people eat fatty foods, such as cheese and eggs, drink red wine, and have less than normal heart disease and, also, live longer than the average person. The French Paradox is found in Southwestern France and the island of Sardinia.
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
“This information attracted the attention of public news media, describing that red wine consumption is associated with favorable intake of health-promoting flavonoids that correlate positively with oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC).
In red wines, total oligomeric proanthocyanidin content, including flavan-3-ols (catechins), was substantially higher (177.18 ± 96.06 mg/L) than that in white wines (8.75 ± 4.53 mg/L). A relative high correlation in red wines was found between ORAC values and malvidin compounds (r = 0.75, P < 0.10), and proanthocyanidins (r = 0.87, P < 0.05).
In white wines, a significant correlation was found between the trimeric proanthocyanidin fraction and peroxyl radical scavenging values (r = 0.86, P < 0.10).
A moderate drink (1 drink per day, about 140 mL) of red wine, or white wine, or wine made from highbush blueberry corresponded to an intake of 2.04 ± 0.81 mmol of TE (Trolox equivalents), 0.47 ± 0.15 mmol of TE, and 2.42 ± 0.88 mmol of TE of ORAC/day, respectively.
Proanthocyanidins are the principal vasoactive polyphenols in red wine that are linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease and to lower overall mortality.
Proanthocyanidins are present at higher concentrations in wines from areas of southwestern France and Sardinia, which are associated with increased longevity in the population.
Earlier studies that attributed this health benefit to resveratrol were premature because of the negligible amount of resveratrol in red wine.
Proanthocyanidins suppress production of a protein endothelin-1 that constricts blood vessels.
These studies provide data supporting the French Paradox that hypothesizes that intake of proanthocyanidins and other flavonoids from regular consumption of red wines prevents occurrence of a higher disease rate (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes) in French citizens on high-fat diets.
(1) Proanthocyanidins have antioxidant activity and they play a role in the stabilization of collagen and maintenance of elastin — two critical proteins in connective tissue that support organs, joints, blood vessels, and muscle.
Possibly because of their effects on blood vessels, proanthocyanidins have been reported in double-blind research to reduce the duration of edema after face-lift surgery from 15.9 to 11.5 days.
(2) In preliminary research, proanthocyanidins were reported to have anti-mutagenic activity (i.e., to prevent chromosomal mutations).
Common antioxidants currently used are vitamin C and vitamin E; however, studies show that proanthocyanidins antioxidant capabilities are 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more potent than vitamin E.
Proanthocyanidins found in French maritime pine bark and grape seed extract work directly to help strengthen all the blood vessels and improve the delivery of oxygen to the cells.
(3) Proanthocyanidins also have an affinity for cell membranes, providing nutritional support to reduce capillary permeability and fragility. Although flavonoids are widespread in nature, the powerful proanthocyanidin compound is most abundant and available from the bark of the maritime pine and in grape seeds, or pips.
In addition, the particular proanthocyanidins found in the proprietary extract of maritime pine bark called Pycnogenol have been shown to
(4) optimize the production of nitric oxide in the artery walls so as to relax them and allow greater blood flow and reduced pressure. Additionally, this same preparation, Pycnogenol, has been found to normalize platelet adhesion (aggregation) so as to facilitate normal blood flow.”
This excerpt gives us a few clues as to “where” ProAnthoCyanadins (PAC’s) work.
1. They stabilize Collagen and Elastin (primary elements of skin and blood vessels.
2. They prevent mutation of cells, the primary cause of cancer.
3. They support and protect capillaries and other larger veins. (varicose veins need this.)
4. They produce Nitric Oxide which relaxes arteries, thereby reducing blood pressure, and indirectly, reducing erectile dysfunction.
Last of all we read that the bark of the Maritime Pine has been used to produce a high potency PAC called pycnogenol. (Pycnogenol is patented and produced by a commercial company. I am not recommending the purchase of this product.)
HOW DO PAC’s PRODUCE THESE EFFECTS?
PAC’s are very strong “anti-oxidants.” “Oxidation” is the process where one molecule attaches to another molecule and thereby makes the bound molecule inactive. This process entails the loss of electrons from the bound molecule. The two molecules then share electrons and are united together. When this occurs in nature, we see a marked change in the characteristics of the molecules. For example: If we take a pure metal, such
as Iron and attach oxygen to it, we get iron oxide or rust. The difference between rust (iron oxide) and pure iron is immense.
If we take a living cell and “oxidize” it with a molecule that binds to a molecule in the cell or cell wall, eventually the cell dies.
When this happens slowly, we call it “Aging.” When it happens quickly, we call it “Disease.”
The process of “Oxygenation” is occurring in living bodies continuously. If we can reduce the number of events of oxidization in our body we can age more slowly.
It is now thought by most medical scientists that the PAC’s as a group are potent anti-oxidants and that their consumption will slow the aging effect and produce healthier bodies and brains.
SOME EFFECTS OF PAC’s
Various authors have commented on the beneficial effects of PAC’s.
Here is an excerpt from Ray Sahelian, MD.:
Benefit of Proanthocyanidins
“Evidence suggesting that dietary polyphenols, flavanols, and proanthocyanidins in particular offer significant cardiovascular health benefits is rapidly increasing. Proanthocyanidin-rich grape seed extract has preventive actions on diseases such as atherosclerosis, gastric ulcer, large bowel cancer, cataracts and diabetes.
In human intervention trials, grape seed extract was shown to have preventive effects on the increase in lipid peroxides in human plasma after exercise and on muscle fatigue after training.”
Note that Dr. Sahelian is describing the effects of grape seed extracts. There are many different plants and plant products which contain PAC’s.
Since we can see that the PAC’s are products of great value to human health, we must examine why one product “Pycnogenol” has such an unusual reputation.
Here is the answer from Wikipedia:
“Pycnogenol® is the trademarked name of a product made from a tree known as French Pine or French Maritime Pine. (The botanical name of this tree is Pinus pinaster.)
In this country, Pycogenol® is marketed as a nutritional supplement. It’s mainly used for asthma and a condition known as chronic venus insufficiency, or CVI.
Some herbalists are recommending it for conditions ranging from diabetes to erectile dysfunction but there is only limited evidence for these uses.
“Pycnogenol” was inked in 1979 by a French scientist, Professor Masquelier (1921-2009) as a scientific name of OPC from French maritime pine park extract and grape seed extract (Masquelier J, Michaud J, Laparra J, et al. Flavonoides and pycnogenols. Intern J Vit Nutr Res 1979;49:307-11).
Masquelier worked with his former Swiss broker Horphag, in attempt to commercialize Pycnogenol world-wide. Without consent of Masquelier, Horphag unitarily registered pycnoagenol as a trademark by 1990 under the ownership of Horphag in US, causing severe legal disputes in US. Consequently, the most prominent scientist in this field was legally ripped off.
Horphag has made huge profits from Masquelier’s intellectual property. Actually, the best French maritime pine bark extract is marked in the trade name of FrenchGlory isotonic OPC.”
It is rather obvious that the PAC’s are very beneficial to your health and should be included in your diet. There is no need to pay more for these molecules simply because they are attached to a trade name, such as Pycnogenol.
Eating lots of red sour fruit or finding any reasonably priced supplement is the answer.
Of the two, fresh fruit not only provides PAC’s but also fiber vitamins and all the other minerals and nutrients your body needs. Fortunately no one can trademark: NATURE.